Doctor's Note

Be sure to check out my other videos on Ayurvedic medicine, and don’t miss all my videos on mercury.  

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: The Science on Açaí Berries, and Probiotics and Diarrhea.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

To post comments or questions into our discussion board, first log into Disqus with your account or with one of the accepted social media logins. Click on Login to choose a login method. Click here for help.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check back for the other videos on Ayurvedic medicine and don’t miss all the videos on mercury. And there are 1,449 subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them!

  • CapeBreton

    Hi There,

    Your videos on Amla have been fascinating and I’d like to give some a try. However, I’ve long been aware that food and natural medicine products from China and India are generally not to be trusted due to contamination from heavy metals and who knows what else.

    How confident can you be to go to an Indian food store and purchase Amla powder? Would it not be just as potentially contaminated with heavy metals as the Ayurvedic medicines were in the study featured in this video?

    Also, what would be a safe dosage and at the same time useful dosage of Amla powder?


    • P.C. Patnaik

      Very reputed Ayurvedic manufacturers like Zandu, Dabur, Baidyanath, Hamdard etc. have gained trust of Indian masses for centuries. Their products are subjected to Indian Government strict quality verifications. Had your suspicion been correct, then these companies could NOTm withstood the test of time.

      • Muhammad Tatarstan

        Hamdard – it is Unani medicine company (not Ayurvedic).
        Zandu, Dabur – not best choice. Not “very reputed”.
        Dabur may add supplements preservatives like Sodium Benzoate to jam (chyavanprash), methylparaben, methylparaben e.t.c.
        It’s not real (traditional) Ayurveda

        Very reputed Ayurvedic manufacturers are : AVS, AVN, AVP, SNA, Vaidyaratnam Oushadhasala, Nagarjuna e.t.c (manufacturers mainly from Kerala)

        • TheHulk

          Organic India products are certified USDA organic. They are premium priced but according to their rep, they wait for 5 years to make the field organic again and then create crops of ayurvedic herbs out of it. They test each and every batch for heavy metals not just a dummy certificate. Also in India, winter season you can get fresh Amla fruits for just Rs. 25 per kg!.

          Finally keep in mind some ayurvedic medicines deliberately include metals for curing a disease, these must be use with caution and only for a limited time not for general well being.

    • Sarah

      You buy organic and USDA certified organic not just any organic and that is how you avoid contaminants.

  • paul3917

    Does anyone have any information on contamination in ashwagandha root powder? I read an article that it increases glutathione, SOD, and catalase levels as well as being excellent for anxiety and is taken in India as a general tonic. But if it has lead, mercury or arsenic, it might be doing me more harm than good.

    • Deer

      From experience, it seems that ashwagandha is not good for those with psoriasis. Perhaps it perks up energy and it is not the kind that someone with an auto immune disease needs. I thought it was worth a try and then broke out in psoriasis. I researched that auto immune diseases should avoid ashwagandha as well as cinnamon.

      • aribadabar

        Which herbs, in your experience, are beneficial for people with psoriasis?


  • Dr. Greger,

    Per the previous comment, how can we be assured that Amla purchased here in the U.S. is heavy metal free?

    Please advise…

  • LouiseF

    this video is confusing. So do we use it or not?

    • jkearns97062

      This is not an endorsement, but one source, Banyan Botanicals, says that their products are USDA Organic and says they test for Microbiologicals, Heavy Metals, Pesticides, and Identification. They say they are “fully compliant with the USDA’s National Organic Program, ANSI Standard 173, AHPA standards and the new cGMP for Dietary Supplements.” They list their Quality Control info here:

      What do you think, Dr. Gregor? Thanks!

      • emp

        I am not sure. Some other study mentioned in another video shows their triphala guggulu (triphala combined with guggulu) contaminated. I believe the study was from 2008 and I don’t know if they were organic, sourced ingredients from different places, or followed different standards then. I also do not know where the contamination comes from: soil or contamination during processing. There is a therapy named rasa shastra which uses metals and minerals though most or all of the formulas tested don’t traditionally include them.

  • BettinaC

    For those worried about contamination issues with these herbs, I highly recommend purchasing organic versions of them online from Mountain Rose Herbs (, a bulk herb and spice supplier with a long history and good reputation for quality. (No, I don’t have any affiliation with them other than to be a happy customer :-) They sell organic amla and triphala powder as well for those who, like me, have been excitedly following Dr. Greger’s videos and want to rush out and buy some.

    • TMR

      Thanks for this :)

  • Veguyan

    At Mountain Rose Herbs they still tout Amla as having tons of Vitamin C. I thought I saw on this site Dr. Greger dispelling the belief that Amla has Vit. C.

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Nope–packed with C!

      • emp

        Any info about how amla survives different forms of processing such as frozen or dried? I mostly use that besides triphala.

  • galactus617

    Wow. I was so excited, I went out to buy amla last night. Now I am concerned regarding the safety of the product.

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Stay tuned–we’re not at the end of the story yet (and it has a happy ending! :)

      • galactus617

        Thanks Doctor.

        I would like to use a safe form if amla. I bought a few different versions of it. Frozen. Sweet/dried. I also tried. Chyawanprash. Is that also good for you. It says it is mostly amla. Just wondering if you had a point of view on this. I am looking forward to your next post.

      • kamojett

        So do we get a link to the happy ending? I read to the end of the comments but no more info on the happy ending.

    • egel egel

      Buy organic amala ..this is US branding that synthetic vitamin supplements are better than natural one

  • lazarito
  • anniekcr

    Dr. Greger, where do you obtain the amla you use in your smoothies?

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      I have an Indian spice store in my neighborhood I go to, but I’ve found it in a few other such stores around town (near DC where I live).

      • Katybcmt

        How do you know from which store you can buy Amla? Do you have any guidelines? Can we trust the online stores that say it is organic?

        • Toxins

           Typically, if you visit a local Indian store, they will sell various forms of Amla. From powdered, frozen and dried. I personally prefer powdered.

      • Lucia13

        I get all my Ayurvedic products from do you have any idea if their products are safe?

  • Amla is a fruit grouped together with other foods, herbs and spices. “The agents which cure body and mental diseases, delay old age, increase mental power, generating power, vital energy, eyesight, impart intelligence, memory, aid proper digestion and clear complexion are Rasayana.”

    Chyawanprash is a tonic that’s made from dozens of substances. I think the story goes one elderly fellow married a young woman and so asked for an elixor to restore his vitality. It’s commonly used in India by the general popuation during winter to maintain immunity — perhaps only a side effect of marketing. But it’s main purpose is immunity.

    There are several main Indian ayurvedic companies you can find here such as Dabur, Himalaya, and Sandhu. I tend to use those companies (since I can find them). I’m not sure if the studies of metal findings list which formulations in which they were found. If mercury was in something particular, it should be because the formula asks for it. I have heard of it’s use but don’t know much about it since I don’t “practice” ayurveda and none of the books in English (I’ve found) talk much about it. If metals were found in pure herbs or triphala, perhaps it is because of like what you see with soy warnings (this product made in a facility that …). Not sure if this is really common.

    I also use Banyan Botanicals (like for triphala) for the herbs I use more regularly (and that they offer). They say organic so I’d guess it probably is. There isn’t much else out there (from US companies) anyway. As far as safety of Indian companies, I have talked (only a bit but not in detail) to doctors that say bigger companies should be safe since they’re tested. But who knows. For Chyawanprash, I have heard of one tests of different brands in an Indian magazine. Am trying to ask someone for a copy of that. And will try to find out more.

    • cin3

      thanks Gary

  • liz LaRue

    Wow. Thank you. Unfortunately, I just ordered some amla online (organic- but who knows?)
    Do you have a brand or source to recommend for these herbs. Amla and triphala in particular? I have a friend just diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and want to suggest the triphala. Thank you, Liz.

    • Catherine Bermea

      I buy triphala from Gaia Herbs in NC.I buy it at Sprouts. From the box: “At Gaia Herbs’ 250-acre certified organic farm and our on-site analytical lab – we plant, grow, harvest and research to optimize best practices in certified organic cultivation of over 40 crops annually.” Each bottle is numbered, and online you can “Track the life story of each herb in you bottle by entering its ID# at PURITY: Trace the origin of each herb back to its source. INTEGRITY: See analytical results for this product. POTENCY: Validate each herb’s full phytochemical complex.” “Laboratory tested for purity, Free of heavy-metal toxicity.”

  • mapiceo

    Any products coming from the 3rd world should be tested. We test all our products twice for heavy metals and live organisms. We are completely transparent with all test results and meet all APHA standards. Alan Marks, CEO, Maharishi Ayurveda Products Int.

    • Southbaysteve

      LOVE your organic Amla tablets. I use it often and I am going to continue (I also take organic ground fenugreek seeds, curcumin and a couple others). Is the MAPI Amla berry US grown? Thanks again!

      Dr. Greger, as always, OUTSTANDING reporting. You are amazing.

      • mapiceo

        SouthBay. The amla is sourced and manufactured in India. It is tested in labs in India and then again when it arrives in the US. We are happy to share test results. Additionally, our amla is made according to the ancient texts. Is it not just dried and ground, rather is is produced using a 21 step process.

        • Johnny M

          Why tapioca starch and silicon dioxide added? Would have loved it if 100% amla.

  • I wasn’t aware of ayurveda as a brand of medicinal foodstuff, but as ‘life science’, an analytical device to bring health and balance not only to people but to the environment. Seems to me the use of the term “Ayurveda” has been misused in this video. Don’t you think?

  • MelanieP

    Ghee seems to be popular in Ayurvedic medicine…lots of claims of
    health benefits. Isn’t it just a slightly different version of butter?
    Would love to see a video about it’s downsides (since all I seem to find
    are articles by proponents of it).

    • emp

      Ghee is also highly valued in classical ayurvedic texts though I also do not know. Raising our own cows in an uncontaminated environment with them eating their natural diet in their natural habitat is quite different from modern processing.

  • P.C. Patnaik

    If report says that one in five Triphala preparations contains dreaded chemicals like Arsenic / Lead / Mercury, then how one Indian wiull consume this nectar of God, safely ? What is the brand name of manufacturers in India whose preparatiosn are really safe ?

    • TheHulk

      Organic India

  • Marie

    How do I know if the Amla powder I have contains toxic metals? Is there a home test kit I can use?

    • Toxins

      This video will benefit you.
      Amla tested and found to not contain toxic metals.

    • Satyendra

      Well you guys are very much confused by the Doctors in the US who are driven by the Pharma Companies (Insurance huh in US and compare it with Indian system). My Father is also suffereing with severe Grade 3 Cirrhosis with Acute Ascitis and Bleeding PHG. But he is still on Ayurvedic supplements and able to survive for yet another days since last 2 years.

      Well, I agree that some of the Ayurvedic products have heavy-metals and they intentionally add them. These Products have to be given only in rarest and critical condition when no primary secondary or tertiary level medicines work.

      Do we remember Zinc (Yashad Bhasma)! When ‘West’ used to say it is lethal but not Copper and Zinc Supplements are proven to be effective.

      Similarly Mica (which is slightly Poisonous) is used in Ayurveda. For one disease there are various paths in Ayurveda. It is upto you to demand the Heavy-metal free pathway for the treatment.
      Borax which is also called Tankan is excellent Anbiotic and Anti-Aging for applying ointments etc. I have been using the ointments and oral pills multiple times since my childhood and found to be perfect.

      Do you guys know that some of the Allopathic system have the Hormonal Medicines which are manufactured using Human/Hares Urine. In Indian distilled (Please read it again as Distilled) urine has been used in ayurvedic system to heal the metobolism.

      And RadioActive Barium, why it is used by the Doctors??
      Why do you consume Pottasium Chloride in Soups, Noodles and Chineese Continental items?
      Why MSGs and MSG-likes are added for tastes?

      So, the final solution is to have get the disease diagnosed with the best Ayurvedic Practitioner, ask him/her to offer the standard and best medicines of brands like Dabur, Baidhyanath, Sandu or Zhandu and follow the strict dietery restrictions and guidelinesas per your Doctor or Ayurvedic Practitioner.

      But please do not fell into any trap just by any MD/MS Doctors. They could be good in their profession but not always. Allopathic is best in its scope and so as Ayurveda and practitioners in both of them should not be sought for their mixed-advices.

      At the end, I hope everyone in this world should get the peaceful social life without any physiological problems. Use your senses and get the problem solved and diseases cured, be it get done by Allopathic or Ayurvedic. And, spread the magical experience all across your stretch.

      Dhanyawad and Om Shanti OM

      • egel egel

        Where can I find yasada bhasm.o

    • egel egel

      It doesn’t .this bloger omiting nonsense.only heavy metal in ayurveda is used in bhasma medicine..amala powder is made by drying amala fruit on exposure than its grinded into powder that’s all!looks like american don’t buy shitY cancer giving sythentic vitamins..

  • Zambanini4Equality

    It would be nice to know which brands to avoid and which ones to buy! Has anyone studied this – or dared to publish the brand names of the toxic triphala products? It seems this should be the law! Are these product brand names mentioned in the actual study but not mentioned in the video? If so could you please do a new video mentioning the brand names to be avoided. Is the problem completely avoided by buying organic Triphala products? Or are there some organic brands that are still contaminated with heavy metals?

  • R. Martinez

    How about ashwagandha? I read it helps anxiety, and lots of other conditions. Is it safe?

    • egel egel

      Ashwaganda is stimulant its doesn’t cures it from organic india

  • jaden

    have you looked into mike adams’ research on the heavy metal retention factor? essentially what they’ve found is whole foods actually retain toxins in the fiber structure so that they are not absorbed into the body. different plants retain different amounts of different things, but just because the lead is found in the plant doesn’t mean its being absorbed into the body

  • Jean-Marie Vallet

    I am looking for an herbal treatment for addressing non stop, high pitch bilateral, peripheral tinnitus, most likely related to stress/ cortisol/ kidney/liver. Thank you.

  • ufoo

    The title is a bit misleading “some ayurvedic medicine worse than lead paint exposure” It is not the medicines that are worse (as the title suggests). It is that some companies’ preparations have poisonous additives like lead.

  • anon

    Of course the CDC is going to refute natural treatments! Natural treatments make them NO money; always always follow the money trail. They say pesticides are dangerous when it comes to natural supplements, and yet GMO foods laden with pesticides are “safe” according to the CDC and FDA. Come on, this type of information where the people have a financial interest, is completely false.

  • Eli

    Banyan Botanicals has an extensive range of Ayurvedic herbs, all tested for contaminants. It’s based in New Mexico so it has to comply with US manufacturing guidelines, as well as doing voluntary testing. Highly recommended–they’re nice people, too.

  • rootman

    How about bitter melon?

    • egel egel


  • Indranil Chakraborty

    Please share with me whatever you may know about the health-care-products of ‘Parampara Ayurved’ ( I’m trying to get as much information as possible from different sources about the health-care-products of ‘Parampara Ayurved’ & other similar organisations in the Indian market to fulfil the needs of 1 of my market-research-activities. Thanks a lot for sharing with me any & all relevant information.

  • Wade Patton

    Wondering if these plants, one or three, can be grown locally where one could avoid the contaminations associated with commercial plant products manufacturing and contaminated/depleted soils. I garden regularly, as well as harvest wild-growing plants such as Ginseng, Dandelion, Nettles, Morels, Lambsquarter, Persimmon, Mulberry, Blackberry, Raspberry, Walnuts, Mint, Pokeweed, etc. Maybe Indian super-herbs would grow here as well. Anybody?

  • casey

    In consideration of all of our future with increasing pollution worldwide, yada yada….is there a watchdog entity or governing body or truthful certifying body that we can keep in mind for our purchases? Seems like a wild west sector of the business world (I think global discussion, thanks interwebnet, will help but we’re still in early days). I’m concerned I’ll have to seek out 50 different sources for reliable product and spend years reading material and blogs that may or may not have credible authors. If I could have the luxury of only having to look for less than 5 “approved” type of labels that could spread across 95% of the products we all want that would make like so much simpler. Am I searching for Bigfoot and his Alien cousins or is there a safe/simple way to shop and know I’m getting quality product? Thanks Dr. Greger for being a peer reviewed source. I just donated to your site, plan to again in the future as well, I really appreciate the effort.

  • Xen

    Hi there! Awesome site and the wealth of information is wonderful!
    I’ve heard that if you have a liver disease and take Amla alone or with ginger you may worsen the liver disease. Any studies on the matter?

  • Ryan K

    I’m not a big smoothie drinker, so buying amla powder was not that attractive to me. But I went by my regular local Indian market and picked up some Indian gooseberries canned in syrup and some chyawanprash jam. Both are good – I can see eating the jam all the time on bread; I’ll try mixing it in my tea as a tonic. The jam tastes a lot like thick tamarind paste with a lot of Christmas-y background spices. Sad to see this video about potential heavy metals, but it’s really unclear if these were found more in medicinal supplements like powders vs Ayurvedic-inspired foods. I’ve been eating imported foods from India for years so to be honest, I’m not gonna worry about it. Everything in moderation.

  • av

    This is total BS! My grandmother has been taking these products for years and she is 95 and still healthy. My dads’ 70 and he has been taking all ayurveda products for years. 1 billion population of which over half uses these products and you think it has high lead in them. Get a life.

  • Adam Antao

    No ayurveda medicines can harm humans but main point is that it should be ayurvedic. Seen in this blog that some medicines are contaminated & contained with lead etc. So how can we consider it as ayurvedic medicines. is one which mission is to provide 100% natural ayurvedic products. Try it.

  • Virender Sodhi

    We should not make blanket statement that all the Ayurvedic supplements are bad. We at Ayush do lot of due diligent to make sure all are products are heavy metal free. You can buy Ayush products without any fear of heavy metals. Most of our products are USDA organic and being in this profession for the last 40+ years I make sure that public is given right information.

  • Terry

    Thank you. I’ve enjoyed watching all of your videos for years now, as well as reading your recent book, How Not to Die. However, I have a question for you regarding the Triphala powder that I am currently using. is the “Banyan Botanicals Triphala Powder – USDA Organic, 1/2 Pound – Balancing Formula for Detoxification & Rejuvenation” one of the 4/5 that do not contain heavy metals? If it isn’t one of the safe ones, which ones are safe? Thanks again for all your wonderful work!

  • Eric Kildahl

    Thanks much for the great website. Can you give me pro and con information on the supplment Hanah One,
    It is an Ayurvedic Herb mix that so far makes me have an increased energy level. Thanks for any feedback. Eric

  • creed

    See a few comments suggesting black nightshade in the formula Liver-care by Himalaya is poisonous – this is incorrect as not all nightshades are toxic. This one has a long history of health benefits.

  • creed

    Any suggestions for a replacement for Himalaya Livercare which I’ve been buying from my local health food store and recently started to buy online – now the product is being labeled under California prop 65 as containing lead and being told will not ship to California without a label. Is this overblown or a real concern?

  • Is my ayurvedic toothpaste bad then?

  • Berner11

    Yes, Indian herbs, are frequently contaminated by e.g. heavy metals. But there are companies they test and sell quality products free of such contaminants. One such is Banyan Botanicals (no commercial interest).

  • perrysumner

    We got good Quality Medicinal,Natural Pure Green Herb,Wax,marijuana,,Cannabis Oil,Seed,Hash cure cancer and chronic pains contact us for info Text/call..7744821204